La Femme

After a career spanning ten years, the band is back with their third album, Paradigmes, that displays their mastery of their favourite styles of music: Surf, psychedelia, cold wave, and punk. And so it was high time we caught up with Sacha Got, the creative half the group he formed with Marlon, for a chat about the tour, the current scene in France, and what it’s like being a musician during the Covid-19 pandemic.


Tell us about the creative process behind this new album...

We initially planned to release five EP, each with a different theme like “Western” or “Nymphs and Succubi”, because we realised that we like to play loads of different styles. In the end we decided to take the best songs from each style, and put them all together on an album. It’s a snapshot of everything we like to do with our music. We spend our time recording and making drafts... And in 2018 we started again from scratch with a selection of songs written between 2012 and 2018. Initially, it was a bit disjointed, and then, because we were producing it ourselves, and we’re a bit of a perfectionist, it was a time-consuming task.


Nunez and Clémence left the band to follow their own musical projects...

Yes, it was their own decision... But in any case, we aren’t really a band, we’re a duo with Marlon, who takes care of the studio side. We’ve always wanted to form a band with members who come and go as they please. Our listeners really focused on Clemence, but there were other female vocalists in La Femme before her, like Clara Luciani. People didn’t get it that we were a duo of producers, and that live shows are something else entirely. At first, we were kind of inspired by the Brian Jonestown Massacre, where the stage was packed with a constantly changing cast, where it was difficult to really identify who was the singer, who was the guitarist.


You left Paris and the Strasbourg Saint Denis neighbourhood to go back to living in Biarritz...

After the tour, I felt physically run down and mentally drained, and I needed to restore some life points. I’d been a bit too enthusiastic with living the rock & roll lifestyle while on tour: No sleeping, too much of everything. After I while, I realised I was starting to pay the price. Instinctively, I returned to Biarritz, where I could see my family, live a healthier life, and be by the sea. And I didn’t want to live in Paris just to get ahead in my career. I wanted to enjoy life, as well.


You left a major label to go back to independent production. Why?

It was just because the team at Barclay had changed, so we pragmatically thought it would be a good time to go ‘round the doors again, and see if there were any labels out there with something else on offer. Being distributed by IDOL gives us more independence, but we are all too aware that with independence comes more responsibility. More decisions are within our control, but we also have more responsibilities. It’s nice to be in control of everything, but it’s also a lot of work, and my job, after all, is to make music, to be in the studio.


You spent a huge amount of time on tour for the last album. Do you think it was too much?

We had differences of opinion: some wanted to keep going, and others wanted to stop. When it works, you get a lot of requests and you have to turn some things down. We reached a stage where I just didn’t think it was productive anymore: we were sick of being on the road, and I wanted to spend more time making music instead of living in each other’s pockets on tour. I had some health problems, and the doctor recommended flying less. I’d really been hammering it, and I could tell everyone was worn out, and we were going to run into a great big wall. I felt like we’d become a touring machine, but it’s when I’m in the studio, creating and composing, that I’m in my element.


You mentioned in an interview that at that time, there were too many ethereal pop groups in France...

It’s true that when you actually look, it’s obvious that a lot of them have cute, friendly names, while we are living in some pretty hardcore times. When you look at the 70s and 80s, it was a freer, more relaxed time, but it was also the time of punk, which was very angry. It’s funny to see that mismatch, this trend. But on the bright side, there’s much more singing in French, and the French language has become more accepted in the music world, and I like to think that La Femme had something to do with that. We’re also living in our own little bubble, a bit out of touch with reality, but we like the seedier side of things as well, we like that contrast.


Hence the song “Foutre le Bordel (Fuck it all up)”...

That’s more a good-natured kind of mess, like when you were a teenager: messing around and pissing off your neighbours. It’s scary to see that world fading away, with so many limits imposed, where everything is becoming consensual... All the more so with coronavirus. We’re becoming like an Asian society with all those rules, while in France, we have a mentality of not following the rules, of rising up.

Tell us about the time you met the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who chose you as their warm-up act at the Accor Arena in 2016.

It was a photographer friend of ours, David Mushegain, who invited us to play at one of his parties in California. Anthony Kiedis, the singer, saw us, loved what we were doing, and offered us the job of supporting act for their European tour.


Do you have good memories of those gigs at the Accor Arena?

Yeah, it was astounding. It was something very new for us. The main story is that we got destroyed by the crowd because of a misunderstanding: we had friends in the VIP area, and because we were the warm-up act and the audience wasn’t very receptive, our mates started going crazy, pogoing around, and they got kicked out by venue security. But Marlon got on the mic and said that we were at a rock concert to have a good time, and then he said something like “The VIP area can go fuck itself”. The audience, though, heard something like, “Go fuck yourself” (laughs), and when you’ve pissed off the whole of Bercy, it’s pretty loud! But it wasn’t as nasty as some people thought: we respect the audience, it was just a misunderstanding.


Have you got any new musical discoveries to share with us?

I’d recommend you check out Molly Lewis. She’s an Australian whistler who worked with us on “Lâcher de chevaux”, and she’s just released her first single, called “Oceanic Feeling”.


How has this year been for you? And how does it feel not knowing when you’ll actually be able to perform this album on stage?

Honestly, it doesn’t bother me that much. We’re working on a film, and we’re moving into new disciplines. The pandemic has helped us try new things. What I’d really like to do is to innovate, like Quentin Dupieux. He could have kept touring with Mr Oizo and been a commercial giant, but he decided to make some really intimate films, which is remarkable. I like the idea that we can reinvent ourselves several times over the course of our lives.